Early Relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood
Qaradawi, born in Egypt in 1926, graduated from Al Azhar University in Cairo. In 1942, during his time as a student, Qaradawi signed membership papers formally joining the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic extremist movement founded in Egypt that has spawned and inspired global terrorist groups, including the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.
He was arrested several times by Egyptian government authorities between 1949 and 1961 due of his activities with the Muslim Brotherhood. In 1951, Qaradawi toured Egypt giving political speeches in support of Brotherhood candidates for the parliamentary elections that year. Egypt banned the Muslim Brotherhood in 1954 because of its opposition to the Egyptian government.
In 1961, Qaradawi moved to Qatar, where he currently resides. Despite his departure from Egypt, Qaradawi's theological influence on the Muslim Brotherhood continued. Qaradawi participated in developing the educational and cultural structure of the Brotherhood, publishing essays and books that were absorbed into the educational curriculum by its Tarbiyya (Education) Department. In addition, a number of Qaradawi's essays relating to Thaqafat ad-Da'iya (The Culture of the Preacher) were published in the Brotherhood magazine, Da'wa, during in the 1970s. Another of his books, at-Tarbiya al-Islamiyya wa Madrasat Hassan al-Banna (Islamic Education and Hassan al-Banna's school), published in 1979, was officially incorporated into the educational curriculum by the Brotherhood.
Although Qaradawi has built a media empire formally independent of the Muslim Brotherhood, he remains the premier spiritual guide to the Islamist movement. The Brotherhood offered Qaradawi their highest leadership position of "General Guide" in 1973, after the death of the group's second General Guide, Hassan Al-Hudaybi, which Qaradawi declined in 1976. Qaradawi declined the position again in 2002, following the death of organization's fifth General Guide Mustafa Mashhur.
Despite refusal to formally adopt the helm of the Brotherhood, Qaradawi maintains a close cooperation with the organization and its members. According to his memoirs, Ibn al-Qarya wa'l-Kuttab (Son of the Village and the Village Schools, vol. 2002, 2004, 2006). Qaradawi continues to regard Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Brotherhood, as the teacher who had the most significant influence on him.
Qaradawi's Activities over Last Decade
Qaradawi has established a worldwide following through television appearances and by utilizing the Internet. He was relatively quick to take advantage of the Internet, launching a site in his name in 1997. The site includes several of his fatwas supporting terror. In 2006, Qaradawi used his Web site to denounce a Danish newspaper's cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad and declared February 3, 2006, an "international day of rage."
Qaradawi hosts a weekly television show called "Shariah and Life" on the Arabic-language television news network, Al Jazeera, where he also expresses his support for terror. For example, during an April 2004 show, he credited Allah with providing Palestinians "human bombs," instead of the planes, missiles and weapons that Zionists have. In addition, his Friday sermons at the Umar bin al-Khattab mosque, a government-sponsored mosque in Doha, have been regularly broadcast live on Qatar television. In a 2005 sermon, while speaking about notable Hamas leaders killed by Israel, Qaradawi asserted, "Their fate was paradise. They died martyrs. They met the death that every Muslim wishes for himself, which is martyrdom in the cause of God."
Qaradawi is also influential through a wide network of affiliations. In the U.S., he is the chairman (in abstenia) of the Michigan-based Islamic American University (IAU), a subsidiary of the Muslim American Society (MAS), according to the MAS Web site. The university aims to provide Islamic higher education, especially to converts and non-practicing Muslims, according to the IAU Web site. Qaradawi is also listed by the IAU as a faculty member.
Prior to being banned from the U.S. in 1999, Qaradawi reportedly spoke to several Muslim organizations around the country. For example, Qaradawi spoke at the now-defunct Muslim Arab Youth Association (MAYA) conference in Toledo, Ohio, in 1995, where he stated, "If everyone who defends his land and dies defending his sacred symbols is considered a terrorist, then I wish to be at the forefront of the terrorists. And I pray to Allah if that is terrorism, then O Allah make me live as a terrorist, die as a terrorist, and be raised up with the terrorists."
Despite the ban, Qaradawi's message still reaches the American public via satellite television and the Internet, in particular IslamOnline, a Web site published in both Arabic and English. The site contains articles and religious rulings which support violence against non-Muslims, as well as anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and anti-American content.
Recent Selected Books
Qaradawi has also written over 40 books, many of which have been published in different languages and disseminated throughout the world. In Qaradawi's Fiqh of Jihad, published in 2009, he chastises those Muslims who do not observe the obligatory duty of jihad, including violent jihad, and attempt to "cast a veil of oblivion on jihad and drop it from the life of the Ummah [the Muslim community]." In the introduction to the book, Qaradawi writes, "Without jihad, the Ummah's boundaries will be violated, the blood of its people will be as cheap as dust, its sanctuaries will be less worthy than a handful of desert sand, and it will be insignificant in the eyes of its enemies." A significant portion of the work is dedicated to legitimizing suicide bombing, or "martyrdom operations," which Qaradawi casts as a "defensive jihad against oppression." He encapsulates his view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with anti-Semitic rhetoric, attesting that the "Zionist massacres of today" are a continuation of alleged Jewish calls to genocide in the Old Testament.
In another of his books, Fatawa' Min Ajl Falastin [Fatwas for the Sake of Palestine], published in 2003, Qaradawi provides a warning that Muslims should not befriend "Jews, in general, and Israelis, in particular" due to the current Palestinian-Israeli conflict. "Receiving enemies in our own countries and visiting them in the occupied lands," he writes, "would remove such a psychological barrier that keeps us away from them, and would bridge the gap that keeps the desire for Jihad against them kindled in the hearts of the Ummah."